Awareness about tapping or EFT (emotional freedom technique) is growing and so is the research. I’ve been intrigued by tapping for some time and I’m impressed by some of the very positive feedback I’ve heard about how it reduces anxiety, depression, pain and cravings. I’m now more intrigued after reading a 2019 paper that describes some of the physiological changes (i.e. changes in the body) that improve after tapping.
This paper, Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health, describes EFT as “an evidence-based self-help therapeutic method”, reporting that “over 100 studies demonstrate its efficacy.”
It’s further described as “a brief intervention combining elements of exposure, cognitive therapy, and somatic [or physical] stimulation of acupressure points on the face and body.” The full paper here goes into great detail if you’d like to read more.
The objectives of this study were to measure and describe some of the physiological changes that occur after tapping, in order to understand some of the mechanisms. Up until now “information about the physiological effects of EFT is limited.”
As far as physiological changes, these included: heart rate variability and heart coherence, resting heart rate and blood pressure, salivary cortisol (to show changes in the endocrine system), and salivary immunoglobulin A (SigA) (to show impacts on the immune system).
They also measured these psychological symptoms: anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, pain, and cravings. After a 4-day training workshop on tapping, the researchers reported that happiness increased by 31% and the following declines in psychological symptoms in 203 participants were reported:
- anxiety (-40%)
- depression (-35%)
- posttraumatic stress disorder (-32%)
- pain (-57%) and
- cravings (-74%)
These physiological improvements were found in the subset of 31 participants that were tested:
- resting heart rate (-8%)
- salivary cortisol (-37%)
- systolic blood pressure (-6%) and diastolic blood pressure (-8%)
- heart rate variability and heart coherence
- salivary immunoglobulin A (SigA) (+113%)
The authors conclude that
gains were maintained on follow-up, indicating EFT results in positive health effects as well as increased mental well-being.
If you’ve been following me for awhile you know I like to look into the research so I’m excited by this study and look forward to further research and gaining a better understanding of this tool.
I also look forward to learning how lasting these psychological and physiological changes are and if you need to keep tapping in order to sustain the changes.
Possible impacts on boosting neurotransmitter levels
Because of the psychological benefits I was also curious about the possible impacts of tapping on boosting neurotransmitter levels such as GABA and serotonin. I found this research on acupuncture which we may be able to partially extrapolate from since EFT does have the acupressure aspect: Effect of Acupuncture on Neurotransmitters/Modulators
In general, acupuncture enhances the activity of the endogenous opioid peptides, serotonin, dopamine, ACh [actelyl-choline], and inhibitory amino acids such as γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glycine, taurine, and lactamine, while it attenuates the activity of noradrenalin and excitatory amino acids including glutamate and aspartic acid.
Compliments the dietary/nutritional/biochemical approach
Based on what I’ve been recently learned, tapping compliments the dietary/nutritional/biochemical approach I use my clients for helping to ease anxiety, overwhelm and stress.
I reached out on Facebook and here is some of the feedback I received:
- Maria shares how she uses both EFT and tryptophan: I started using EFT and it has helped – wasn’t expecting it to, but it really does work. However, having had a particular problem for many years, I realize that it’s going to take time to really be at the level I want to be. I also got a teenager to try it, and to their amazement, it did settle their anxiousness – from what they initially said was a 10 -11 – down to 7 in just a few minutes. Last night, I tried the Lidtke Tryptophan and couldn’t believe how deeply and undisturbed I slept – thank you Trudy – I learnt about that product from you during the anxiety summit. By the way, I will be joining the Tapping Summit – can’t wait for that one!
- Terri Hirning is a practitioner and shares that her and her biz partner bring it to their clients in conjunction with lifestyle changes for maximum effect. She shares: I find that anxiety is a big issue for my clients. So while they are implementing dietary or supplement changes, tapping can help reduce those emotions while their biochemistry comes into alignment.
She also says: I taught it to my children and they have The Tapping Solution app and will proactively use it when they need to shift things. I am so thankful for this work.
- Meeta Darji is a health coach and says this: YES! EFT is profound in helping with anxiety and stress. I have been doing it for the last two years and use it on my kids too. I’m training at the moment and learning how it can help with cravings and addictions. Absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to add it to my health coaching practice.
She does use amino acids like GABA, tryptophan, DPA, glutamine for anxiety and cravings/addictions and agrees that EFT is definitely a good compliment. EFT is great for using with limiting beliefs, traumas, addictions, fears and so much more, so together with amino acids, it’s very powerful.
- Benita Scott shares this: EFT is so great! I use it as part of my professional practice as a psychologist and in conjunction with Nutritional therapies it’s a game changer for so many vulnerable clients. It’s been shown to increase GABA levels, decrease cortisol and alter brain cells in relation to food cravings too. There has been a paradigm shift in psychology recently and I think EFT, Matrix and nutritional supplements are changing how we work and heal.
- Dede shares how EFT changed her life: I was on permanent disability for 20 years due to panic attacks. EFT changed all that so I became a practitioner. This was 11 years ago.
She shares how she went through “the literal hell of getting off psych meds. I wouldn’t have survived without EFT and food changes.”
It does seem to be very individualized and works very well for some folks and not very well or not at all for others:
- One person said EFT is soothing in the moment but she didn’t find any significant or lasting benefits.
- Someone else shared: I have tried it, my daughter and her son went to a practitioner, and it did nothing for me or them. I have studied how to do it on-line from well known sites, and still nothing. I’m wondering if a lot of healings are the placebo effect.
- It doesn’t seem to work for me either (more on that below)
My tapping experience is very limited
I will admit that, at this point, my tapping experience is very limited. I have such great success with amino acids like GABA, tryptophan and glutamine to provide quick anxiety-relief, end the overwhelm and stop the carb cravings for my clients, I haven’t felt the need to look into tapping.
In case you’re new to me and my work, here is a sampling of a few tools I use with my anxious clients:
- My main approach is using targeted amino acids such as tryptophan or 5-HTP for the low serotonin worry-in-your-head anxiety where folks may also experience fears, panic attacks, ruminations, phobias, insomnia, PMS, anger, irritability and cravings; and GABA for the low GABA physical-anxiety that also includes muscle tension, overwhelm, insomnia and the need to self-medicate with alcohol to calm down
- Another amino acid is DPA (d-phenylalanine) and I’m mentioning this one because it boosts endorphins (in a similar way to acupuncture) and helps my clients who are experiencing weepiness, pain and are big comfort/reward eaters. I blog about this here: DPA for weepiness, pain and comfort and reward eating)
- Since the EFT study mentions cortisol, I’ll share one of my key nutrients for lowering cortisol – Seriphos (I blog about this here: Seriphos Original Formula is back: the best product for anxiety and insomnia caused by high cortisol)
- And of course everything else: diet, no sugar, no caffeine, gut health, improving sleep, toxin removal and addressing all nutritional deficiencies etc (covered in great detail in my book “The Antianxiety Food Solution” and elsewhere on this blog.)
I’m getting newly acquainted with EFT
I have been hearing about tapping/EFT for years – first from Dr. Mercola and then had a group session at a conference with Brad Yates and didn’t notice any benefits. I’ve tried it again a few times and have yet to experience any profound benefits. I’d expect to be a good candidate given my history with anxiety/insomnia.
I really do like to be able to share resources and products I have experienced personally but in this instance I’m still a newbie.
As of now I don’t know why tapping/EFT doesn’t help me and some other folks. Perhaps there is a bioindividual aspect? Just like some folks do well with herbs and some with vitamins/amino acids; some folks thrive on spinach and some have oxalate issues; some folks do well with meditation and others struggle with it; some find nature to be an elixir and others find dancing to be their magic?
However, based on what I’ve recently learned about the physiological changes and the feedback I’ve heard, I’m getting newly acquainted with EFT and it’s an additional resource I want to offer you – my community of anxious women.
Right now I’m seeing it as another tool in the toolbox (for some folks), together with dietary changes, addressing biochemical imbalances, gut health, getting out in nature etc.
Resources for additional learning
If you’re new to tapping and would like to learn more, the 12th Annual Tapping World Summit airs online Feb 24 – March 7. Here is the main summit registration page.
This is a great introductory video from summit host Nick Ortner (register to watch it and get access to the summit)
Nick has also written a best-selling book “The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living” (my Amazon link)
One of the co-authors of the study mentioned, Dr. Dawson Church, is a speaker on day 1 of The Tapping Summit. The program material says he’ll be talking about latest developments in the field of scientific research into how this technique works, and why it works so well (so I assume he’ll be talking about this study). He has also authored a number of books on EFT.
I’d love to hear back from you in the comments below
- Do you use tapping/EFT in conjunction with dietary/nutritional/biochemical changes to help ease your anxiety, stress, overwhelm? (if you’re a practitioner, do you use both with clients/patients?)
- Do you find one approach to be better than the other?
- Have you tried tapping without success?
- If you’re new to tapping/EFT are you interested in learning how to incorporate it into your life?
Please share so I can learn from you and we can all learn from each other (and thanks to everyone who has contributed to the discussion already).